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The Juneau-Douglas High School football team just completed the best season in its history, and on Sunday some of the Crimson Bears reaped the rewards.
Seven Juneau players were selected to the all-state first team and three players earned spots on the second team after voting Sunday morning by the state's football coaches. The selections involved seven Crimson Bears, with three players earning spots on both the offense and defense.
The seven first-team all-state spots were the most in one season for the Crimson Bears. In order to be considered for the all-state teams, players must first earn first-team all-conference honors. The all-conference teams were announced last week.
The state's Gatorade Player of the Year award went to Ward Dobbs of West Valley High School in Fairbanks. Dobbs was large school co-defensive player of the year and earned first-team linebacker honors, plus he was a first-team running back after rushing for more than 1,200 yards in the regular season (the Wolfpack did not make the state playoffs). The Gatorade Player of the Year award goes to the state's top player, regardless of his school's size classification.
Juneau junior Brian Felix earned first-team spots at both running back and defensive back, the only Crimson Bear with two first-team selections. Felix led the state in rushing this year with 1,975 yards and 20 rushing touchdowns through Juneau's 33-15 state championship loss to East Anchorage on Saturday, plus he had a fumble recovery for a game-clinching touchdown in Juneau's 33-18 state semifinal victory over Lathrop a week earlier.
"We thought it went pretty well," Juneau head coach Reilly Richey said. "We were hoping Brian might get the Gatorade Player of the Year, we put him up for it. We thought his toughest competition might be Casey Flair (of East Anchorage), but I talked about how Brian was such a huge part of our team. Casey is the best receiver in the history of the state, but he doesn't play defense and East has other weapons.
"I was kind of hopeful, but West Valley made the same kind of appeal about Dobbs. Dobbs has had a long career, and Brian really came into his own this year. Dobbs had three years of name recognition. We were hopeful, but it didn't spin our way."
Senior C.J. Keys was named a first-team defensive back and was second team at wide receiver. Senior Ryan West was selected first-team linebacker on defense and was a second-team choice at offensive guard.
Other Crimson Bears earning first-team honors were senior offensive tackle Jimmy Brown, senior defensive interior lineman Toni Talamai and senior kicker Richard Isett. Senior Nick West (no relation to Ryan) was a second-team selection at linebacker.
"We were pretty happy, other than Nick West every one of our guys who was all-conference (first team) was all-state," Richey said.
Richey said he thought Nick West lost out in the numbers game. Ryan West was nominated at the same position and it's rare one school will have two first-team players at the same spot, especially since linebacker is a position that attracts the best athletes for each team.
Sharing large school defensive player of the year honors with Dobbs was East Anchorage High School linebacker Joe Lyman. Flair, who scored three touchdowns in Saturday's state championship game, was the large school offensive player of the year.
Junior Aumavae of Palmer was the large school lineman of the year, while Palmer's Rod Christiansen was named large school head coach of the year.
The small school offensive player of the year was Kenai Central running back Dakota Craig, who scored four touchdowns in Kenai's 46-0 small school state championship game victory over Eielson last week. Kenai defensive back T.J. Hancock and Eielson inside linebacker Jamie Hurlburt shared the small schools defensive player of the year award.
Nikiski's John Schwinke was the small school lineman of the year, while Kenai's Jim Beeson was head coach of the year for small schools.
The complete all-state team lists are on the Scoreboard on Page B2.
Charles Bingham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ALL-STATE FOOTBALL TEAMS
The Alaska all-state football teams as selected by the state's coaches in a meeting Sunday in Anchorage. Players have to be first-team selections from their all-conference teams to be eligible for all-state. The list includes the all-state teams in both the large school and small school divisions. The Gatorade Player of the Year can come from either size classification.
Gatorade Player of the Year - Ward Dobbs, West Valley, running back/linebacker.
Special awards/special teams
Offensive player of the year - Casey Flair, East Anchorage.
Defensive players of the year - Ward Dobbs, West Valley; Joe Lyman, East Anchorage.
Lineman of the year - Junior Aumavae, Palmer.
Utility player of the year - Jason Dahlke, North Pole.
Kick returner of the year - Darrell Pilcher, Dimond.
Punter - Josh Kimpton, Dimond.
Long snapper - Jason Macrander, Service.
Kicker - Richard Isett, Juneau-Douglas.
Head coach of the year - Rod Christiansen, Palmer.
Assistant coaches of the year - Keith Armstrong, Palmer; Paul Kongaika, West Anchorage.
First team offense
Center - Dominick Bellotte, Colony.
Offensive guards - Junior Aumavae, Palmer; Keenan Chirhart, Dimond; Hunter Joy, East Anchorage; Nick Pilch, Palmer.
Offensive tackles - Jimmy Brown, Juneau-Douglas; Mike Hollett, North Pole; A.J. Logo, East Anchorage.
Tight end - James Maloney, West Anchorage.
Wide receivers - Casey Flair, East Anchorage; Nick Varner, Lathrop.
Fullback - Jake Staser, Service.
Running backs - Ward Dobbs, West Valley; Brian Felix, Juneau-Douglas; Perry Monzulla, North Pole; Ryan Stickler, East Anchorage.
Quarterback - Derek Laws, East Anchorage.
First team defense
Defensive ends - David Filoialii, East Anchorage; Mike Kasper, Dimond.
Interior linemen - Junior Aumavae, Palmer; Stephan Martinez, Chugiak; Toni Talamai, Juneau-Douglas; Tonga Tea, East Anchorage.
Linebackers - Luke Ayer, Dimond; David Craig, Colony; Ward Dobbs, West Valley; Joe Lyman, East Anchorage; Piliki Mapuni, West Anchorage; Ryan West, Juneau-Douglas.
Defensive backs - Ryan Bailey, East Anchorage; Brian Felix, Juneau-Douglas; C.J. Keys, Juneau-Douglas; Rhett Magner, Colony.
Second team offense
Center - Paul Sulunga, West Anchorage.
Offensive guard - Ryan West, Juneau-Douglas.
Offensive tackles - Travis Anderson, Dimond; Justin McCain, Palmer.
Tight end - Chuck Quint, Lathrop.
Wide receivers - C.J. Keys, Juneau-Douglas; Justin Schwartzbauer, Colony.
Fullback - Allen Franklin, Palmer.
Running backs - Remington Martin, West Anchorage; Sean Olivera, Colony; Darrell Pilcher, Dimond.
Quarterback - Charlie Bentti, Palmer.
Second team defense
Defensive ends - Luke Pearson, North Pole; Sam Zimmer, Palmer.
Interior linemen - Dominick Bellotte, Colony; Mike Hollett, North Pole; Jose Soto, Service; Jed Wade, Wasilla.
Linebackers - Kyle Coffman, Colony; Cam Culver, North Pole; Ryan Holmquist, West Anchorage; Nick West, Juneau-Douglas.
Defensive backs - Shawn Fletcher, Lathrop; A.J. Randall, Service; Sean Ritchie, North Pole; Mike Weber, Palmer.
Special awards/special teams
Offensive player of the year - Dakota Craig, Kenai Central.
Defensive players of the year - T.J. Hancock, Kenai Central; Jamie Hurlburt, Eielson.
Lineman of the year - John Schwinke, Nikiski.
Return specialist - Jeremiah Taylor, Nikiski.
Punter - Josh Blanchard, Homer.
Long snapper - Danny Autrey, Kenai Central.
Kicker - Chet Dyson, Anchorage Christian Schools.
Head coach of the year - Jim Beeson, Kenai Central.
Assistant coach of the year - Jim Dawson, Kenai Central.
First team offense
Center - Michael Scheffent, Kenai Central.
Offensive guards - John Schwinke, Nikiski; Dan Spindler, Soldotna.
Offensive tackles - Jon Verhelst, Soldotna; Cody Dwyer, Anchorage Christian Schools.
Tight end - Josh Bennett, Kenai Central.
Wide receiver - Chad Odom, Eielson.
Fullback - Dan Ghormley, Soldotna.
Running backs - Dakota Craig, Kenai Central; Billy Anderson, Nikiski.
Quarterback - Cole Chappell, Kenai Central.
First team defense
Interior linemen - Justin Lee, Kenai Central; John Schwinke, Nikiski; Angelo Luna, Kodiak; Clay Burman, Soldotna.
Outside linebackers - Michael Scheffert, Kenai Central; Dan Ghormley, Soldotna.
Inside linebackers - Dakota Craig, Kenai Central; Jamie Hurlburt, Eielson.
Defensive backs - T.J. Hancock, Kenai Central; Neil Gardner, Soldotna; Chad Odom, Eielson.
Second team offense
Center - Travis Swing, Eielson.